When You Die Podcast with Johanna Lunn

Johanna Lunn: Welcome to the When You Die podcast. If it has to do with death and dying, we’re talking about it. With me today is the wonderful multi-award winner Barbara Karnes, a nurse, author and extraordinary end-of-life educator.

Barbara’s career spans four decades and began as an early hospice pioneer during the AIDS crisis. In addition to the many years she has spent at the bedside caring for patients and their families as a nurse, Barbara has also served as executive director of hospice and various home-health agencies. She has also worked through the hospice ranks as patient care manager, clinical director, staff, nurse, and volunteer. Barbara is a dedicated end of life educator, training nurses and volunteers, authoring resource materials, booklets, movies, and her fabulous blog.


You may want to read more about Barbara's journey in her book,  THE FINAL ACT OF LIVING: Reflections of a Long-Time Hospice Nurse 

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I was so happy to hear this podcast which shed some light on my father’s situation. He died in the 80s, way before I became a Hospice volunteer. We weren’t with him when he died. I saw him lying in his casket with a haughty look on his face, which bothers me to this day. When in & out of sleep in the hospital, he was arguing, possibly with God, that he had to stay to take care of my mother. I just assumed that the look was still present in the casket because he was angry with God for taking him. I don’t know why his facial muscles wouldn’t have relaxed from the time of death until the viewing? I’m sure you understand my feelings, even unto this day.
BK Books replied:
Hi Linda, I’m sorry you have been carrying the image of your father as him being angry with God. He probably was just working very hard to get out of his body. Sometimes we talk while we are in labor but I don’t think we are actually thinking about what we are saying. Think of our labor to enter this world, our mother isn’t really thinking. She is reacting. So it is when we are in labor to leave this world. We are beyond logical thinking, even logical feeling (if feelings actually have logic to them). You might write your father a letter. Put your thoughts and concerns along with your tears on paper. Say everything you need to say to him then burn the letter and scatter the ashes to the wind. Let go of the unsettling thoughts you have carried with you for so long. Blessings! Barbara

Lolita Silicani

Barbara, thank you for your continued insights into the nature of dying and all that goes with it.
I always find what you say very interesting and informative, whether I’m reading it or hearing it.
Again, a sincere thank YOU! :)
BK Books replied:
Hi Johanna, thanks for the kind words. Blessings! Barbara

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